Death or Dishonour

In a makeshift camp, which I’ve spent some time in, you have  to be so careful about cleanliness, particularly when, as occurs in the desert, dust is blown everywhere. Touching your hand to your mouth, it’s easy to transfer germs and end up with the most horrendous dysentery.

Post a mortar attack, you’re supposed to wait for the all clear, which normally takes about twenty minutes, before moving around. This poem was inspired by such an event, when ten minutes after an attack, I and a Sgt Major observed a soldier run from the sick building to the latrines from which a long wail came.

The Sgt Major took a drag on his cigarette and said ‘Aye sir, there’s another poor soul what’s lost the battle between death and dishonor.’

Death or Dishonour

We give no thought
When we’re caught short
In London or in Rome
We just nip in
With a cheeky grin
To a shop or someone’s home
But if nature calls
When you’re under fire
And you reckon you’re a gonner
You face the most
Unsavoury choice
Between death and dishonour

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